Finding, and Keeping, Good IT People

Finding good IT people, wherever you located globally, is hard. Waiting for the good IT people to apply for positions, is not likely to gain enough good candidates.

To get really good IT people you need to actually manage your current IT staff properly. Then word will get out that your organization is not run by pointy haired bosses (phb) and good IT people will be open to joining. This obviously is not a quick fix. But this practice is the key. This is just respect for people with a eye on the special needs of creative IT people.

If you do this you will also reduce turnover. That doesn’t help in recruiting people, but it solves the underlying problem recruiting is meant to deal with – having staff to do the work. Making your environment tech employee friendly has the benefits mentioned above and will reduce turnover.

Like many issues when examined systemically the most important factors to deal with the recruiting problem are often not directly looking at the problem at hand. Now there are sensible actions to improve the recruiting process. Take a fundamental look at the hiring process and think about some real changes – how about trying people out first, not determining staffing primarily on judgments based on how well then interview. Don’t have silly prerequisites. Why do you need a college degree for an IT job? Or why require specific degrees, like a computer science degree, and exclude others, for example, an online IT degree. Might specific college experience be helpful? Yes. Might someone without it be a great employee? Yes.

Companies love to list out lots of requirements for all sorts of specific IT knowledge. It is a very bad idea. List what you need. If you list more than 4 areas as required I think that is a very bad sign. It is often an indication of phb hiring process often involving an employee management department (for those that don’t want to say human resources) that doesn’t know the needs of IT that is far too involved in the process. If you are hiring someone as a software developer and they have great experience with Smalltalk or Python it is hard to imagine they wouldn’t be fine for your Ruby on Rails code base. A good programmer is a good programmer. Now if you have two equal people and one has been working with Ruby on Rails for 3 years yes, they would be ideal. But the specific skills hardly matter for good developers, they will learn what they need to.

Good IT people are in demand worldwide. More than most employees, if they don’t like how they are being treated, they can just go somewhere else. This means the consequences of bad management for keeping good IT is greater. But the same need for respect for people is the core issue – with some others though they will put up with bad management practices for far longer than good IT people.

Related: Dee Hock on HiringHiring the Silicon Valley WayIT Talent Shortage, or Management Failure?The Manager FAQprogrammers, cartoon view

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3 Responses to Finding, and Keeping, Good IT People

  1. Fantastic post! It completely falls in line with my website’s purpose and I’m not sure I could have said it better myself. So often, I find myself saying to my coworkers that the requirement of a degree for this type of work is, for the most part, unnecessary. If someone is good at what they do and can show that they have experience with similar environments, that needs to count for something. Different fields, perhaps might be more difficult, but I do recall that when I came into my present position, I have used next-to-nothing from my college days beyond the basics that I could have taught myself over a few weeks.

    Thanks again!

  2. Pingback: SUDO Speak | Communicating With Engineers » Hiring and Keeping Good Engineers (part 1)

  3. Sam says:

    I almost hired an IT consultant; but due to her strange behavior, I changed my mind. Checking professional references is very important.

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